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1995-2001
GamesFirst! Magazine

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by Capcom

88copy-01.jpg (3593 bytes)I’ve heard a couple of other reviewers say that Onimusha is just Resident Evil with samurai. I want to know what exactly they mean by "just". Samurai and undead demons go together like hydrogen and oxygen. I mean individually they’re pretty decent elements in there own right, but together they can make water, and if you have water you can support life as we know it. It’s basically the same with undead and samurai. I’ll make it simple: samurai + undead = cool. If anyone ever tells you otherwise they’re wrong and probably evil.

02copy-01.jpg (3580 bytes)That said, Onimusha is a lot like Resident Evil with samurai. Playing as the warrior Samanosuke, you begin the game responding to a request for help from the local princess. Times are troubled and wars are being waged in the background of the story. Japan is in chaos, but it’s nothing compared to the trouble at the local keep where demons are eating people, preparing human sacrifices, and just plain causing trouble. You arrive too late to save the princess, but you vow to search for her and thus the game begins.

05copy-01.jpg (3453 bytes)Onimusha has more of an arcade feel to it than does the Resident Evil series. Navigation is identical and control very similar, but monsters are confronted mush more like they are in an action-RPG. Basically you run up to demons and whack them with your sword until they explode in a flash of color and their remains disintegrate. You then suck the souls that were imprisoned in the demon into your magic gauntlet. These souls can replace lost health, lost magic, and also serve as experience points used to upgrade weapons. In addition, Samanosuke acquires magic orbs that go into his soul sucking gauntlet and allow him to use spells like lightning bolts, flamebursts, and whirlwind attacks, similar to the magic spells used by the historical samurai.

06copy-01.jpg (2230 bytes)Monsters, once defeated, will reappear a few times. The sly gamer can plan a path without too much backtracking in order to minimize combat and save health. The wise gamer can backtrack often in order to kill as many demons as possible in order to suck up their souls and use the resulting energy to upgrade weapons, orbs, and equipment.

08copy-01.jpg (2690 bytes)There are three different swords, three different magic orbs, and three sets of armor you’ll acquire during the game. The armor is pretty simple since every new set is better than the old set, but the swords have more variety. The swords have a difference in speed, power, size, and magic attack. Each sword is more suitable for use against a particular enemy, so switching between them is a necessity. Other secondary weapons can be acquired such as the bow and the rifle. Ammunition is limited, so these will never be your primary weapons, but they are ideal for specialized tasks such as taking out snipers.

09copy-01.jpg (3125 bytes)Health is at a premium in Onimusha, so you’ll have to be frugal with your green herbs. The individual monsters aren’t too difficult as a general rule, although certain combinations of monsters can be devastating. The real challenge is in defeating the ultra powerful boss characters. Strategy is necessary since the fearless hack and slash technique is doomed to almost certain failure. Some boss battles are so difficult that you can count yourself lucky if you manage to defeat your opponent in less than ten minutes. This is quite awhile for a strike and parry battle to go on, but it never gets old or monotonous. It also helps that the boss battles, and many other scenes, are presented with a dramatic cinematic flare that adds to the excitement.

10copy-01.jpg (3707 bytes)There is also a side quest not necessary to finish the game in which you travel to the dark realm. You’re pitted against various enemies in twenty levels of gladiatorial combat. As each stage is cleared you move on to the next arena, and after certain stages there are items such as herbs. After the twentieth level you’re given the key to unlocking an ultra powerful sword sure to come in handy during the games final stages. As a word of caution, the dark realm is so hard that it should not be attempted by the weak willed or the easily frustrated.

17copy-01.jpg (3865 bytes)Onimusha’s only real flaw is its length, but this is a significant flaw. A leisurely stroll will take you through the game for the first time with six hours or so of game time, although if you die a lot it may take a little longer. When calculating your game ranking, five hours is the lowest score even rated. As impressive as Onimusha is at times, when it comes to talking about truly great games, a five-hour game is difficult to take seriously. If you’ve been through the game before, finishing in two or three hours is easily reachable.

19copy-01.jpg (3022 bytes)On the upside, it’s a great ride for as long as it lasts. You may also want to replay it once to get a good score and unlock all the secret goodies, but after that Onimusha doesn’t have much more to offer. If you don’t mind the abbreviated game time, Onimusha is a sure thing.

Jeff Luther

Snapshot

Ups: Great visuals & cinematics; cool storyline; lots of fun.

Downs: Way too short.

System Reqs:
Sony PlayStation 2

Click here for our review of the Onimusha: Warlords Official Strategy Guide.

 

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